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Full text of "Policy statement on native education in Alberta"

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in 2015 





March 1987 

To the people of Alberta 

The Government of Alberta is committed to ensuring 
that all young Albertans receive an excellent education. 
Our commitment is to encourage the continued 
development of a culture that respects and cherishes 
individuality and individual initiative. We want to 
encourage competence, self-confidence, a sense of 
responsibility and a determination to contribute to the 
prosperity and the well-being of the Native community 
and all Albertans. One way to meet this commitment is 
through an education system which is designed to 
respond to the needs of Alberta students, which 
recognizes the importance of their cultural heritages, 
and which helps them to grow, to learn, and to become 
Alberta society. 

This policy reflects an integrated approach to Native education in the delivery of 
programs and the development of curriculum. It promotes a partnership among Native 
people, school boards and Alberta Education to ensure that excellence is achieved. 

The policy is a positive statement of this government's commitment toward ensuring 
that Native children have the opportunity to benefit from an education which meets 
their needs. The policy will also ensure that Native people, especially parents, have 
an opportunity to help guide and shape the education of their children. Finally, the 
policy will ensure that all students. Native and non-Native, have an opportunity to 
learn about the history and contributions of Native people to Alberta. 

On behalf of the Government of Alberta, I would like to express my deep 
appreciation to the many Native people and various groups across the province who 
contributed so significantly to the development of this policy. Their advice, their 
suggestions, and their commitment to the education of their children were essential to 
the development of an effective policy for Native education. 

Alberta is leading the way in bringing Native people to work with school boards to 
improve Native education. This policy provides an incentive which can be looked 
upon with pride by all Albertans. As a provincial government we recognize and are 
committed to fulfilling our leadership role. Together we can accomplish this task. 

Yours sincerely. 

Nancy J. Betkowski 
Minister of Education 


Over 23,000 Native students attend 
provincial schools. They represent 
Metis, Non-Status, and Treaty Indians 
with distinct histories, cultures, and 
life-styles which contribute to the 
educational challenge. These young 
Albertans are proud of their Native 
heritage, are self-confident and 
motivated. They want to learn in order 
to assume responsibility and make 
positive contributions to society. They 
need an education that builds on their 
particular strengths and educational 
achievements. These young Albertans 
want an education that prepares them 
to meet the challenges of the future. 

In November 1984, the Honourable 
David King, former Minister of 
Education, established the Native 
Education Project Team to develop 

a Native Education Policy as a 
foundation for improving the 
delivery of quality education to 
Native students and their 
communities. The Project Team 
was also established to co-ordinate 
the development of educational 
materials and resources suitable for 
use by both Native and non-Native 

Dr. Ralph Sabey was appointed 
Director of the Project. Other members 
included Pearl Calahasen, Merv 
Kowalchuk, and Bernie Makokis. In 
March 1985, Marjorie Dressyman from 
the Federal Department of Indian 
Affairs joined the Project Team for 
four months. 

The Native Education Project Team 
met with Native people throughout the 


province. The Team listened to the 
people's concerns and views on the 
current education of their children. 
These views are reported in Native 
Education in Alberta: Alberta Native 
People's Views on Native Education, 

The discussions with Native people, 
the information gathered from 180 
different meetings, and the letters, and 
papers submitted have formed the basis 
for Alberta Education's Native 
Education Policy Statement. 

The Native Education Policy 
Statement complements other current 
actions taken by the Government of 
Alberta, such as the Secondary 
Education Review, to provide each 
student enrolled in a provincial school 
with a high standard of education that 
addresses his or her individual needs 
and abilities. The Policy Statement also 
complements initiatives taken to foster 
tolerance and understanding between 
peoples and pride in our multi-cultural 

The Native Education Policy 
Statement presents a provincial 

government response to the concerns of 
Native people. The document outlines 
the actions Alberta Education has taken 
and will take to address the needs of 
Native students and their communities. 
These actions provide: 

• ways in which the educational needs 
and personal aspirations of Native 
students can be met; 

• opportunities for Native people to 
help shape the education of their 
children, and help young people 
reach their potential; 

• opportunities for all students in 
schools throughout Alberta to develop 
an awareness and appreciation of 
Native cultures and their many 
contributions to society. 

This policy applies only to Provincial 
schools and not to Band operated or 
Federally administered schools located 
on Indian reserves. 

The Policy statement will be 
discussed with Native people. The 
results of these discussions will assist 
in the development and delivery of 
Native Education in Alberta. 


What is the Purpose of Native Education? 

The aim of Native Education is to 
develop the knowledge, the skills, and 
the positive attitudes of Native students 
so that they will be self-confident, 
capable, and committed to setting goals 
to making informed choices, and acting 
in ways that will improve their own 
lives, and the life of both Native and 
non-Native communities throughout 

• Alberta Education recognizes that 
Native education must be attuned to 
the diverse needs, cultures, and life- 
styles of Native students so that they 
can build on their self-esteem, and 
gain a better understanding of 
themselves through the study of their 
own heritage and cultures. 

• Alberta Education recognizes that 
Native histories, cultures, and life- 
styles must be included in the studies 
taken by Alberta students, so that 
they can benefit from the values and 
lifestyles of Native cultures. 

• Alberta Education recognizes that 
conditions on the delivery of Native 
education must be flexible enough to 
meet the different needs of school 
communities throughout the province. 

• Alberta Education recognizes that 
Native people must be involved in 
school activities. They must have 
opportunities to help guide and 
influence the education of their 

• Alberta Education recognizes the 
importance of partnerships, and 
strong working relationships among 
schools, Native people, and the 
Alberta Government. Through 
partnerships, the quality of education 
provided to Native students in 
Alberta schools can be enhanced. 

Alberta Education, in partnership 
with Native communities and school 
boards, is committed to addressing and 
taking action on the issues voiced by 
Native people and educators. The 
Government of Alberta proposes the 
following policy for guiding Native 
Education in Alberta. 



Alberta Education supports the 
development and delivery of programs 
and services which will: 

• provide enhanced and equal 
opportunities for Native students to 
acquire the quality of education 
traditional in Alberta; 

• challenge Native students to learn 
and perform to the best of their 

• provide opportunities for Native 
students to study and experience their 
own and other Native cultures and 

• provide opportunities for Native 
people to help guide and shape the 
education of their children; 

• provide opportunities for students in 
Alberta's schools to recognize and 
appreciate Native cultures, and their 
many contributions to our province 
and society. 


What Will Be Taught in Schools? 

Schools offering educational 
opportunities to Native students must 
strive to meet and enrich the students' 
abilities, interests, and talents. Schools 
must stress what is vital and important 
in Native lifestyles to enhance the self- 
esteem and motivation of Native 

It is essential that subjects taught to 
Alberta students include aspects of 
Native heritage, views, and values so 
that Native and non-Native students can 
reach a better understanding of each 
other. Thus, Alberta students will better 
appreciate the diversity and strength of 
our multi-cultural society. 

Alberta Education has already taken 
action to improve studies for Native 
students. In 1984, the Native Education 
Project Team, Native organizations, and 
Alberta school boards began to review, 
develop, and make available through 
Alberta Education classroom materials 
used by students and teachers. These 
materials accurately and vibrantly tell 
about Native cultures and their many 
contributions to society. 

Alberta Education is committed to 
guiding schools toward meeting the 
particular and diverse needs of Native 
students, and will: 

• Continue to work with Native people 
and school boards to develop 
classroom materials that will 
complement subjects taken by 
students, and will encourage schools 

to use them as basic and 
recommended learning resources. 

• Include and highlight aspects of 
Native heritage, cultures, and life- 
styles in the studies that are to be 
taken by students in Alberta. 

• Ensure that the programs offered and 
that the materials developed for 
students are consistent with new 
directions taken by Alberta 
Education, such as the Secondary 
Education Review. 

• Support the development and delivery 
of extended Native studies for 
students who wish to explore and 
experience Native traditions and life- 

• Assist school boards and Native 
people to develop programs for the 
teaching of Native languages. 

• Encourage school boards to assist 
those students who need special or 
additional instruction in English as a 
Second Language. 

• Assist school boards and Native 
people to develop and deliver 
enrichment programs for exceptional 
children including the gifted and the 

• Assist school boards and the Native 
community to develop and deliver 
programs and services that will 
address the needs of students in 
isolated communities. 


How Can Native Education Best Be Delivered to 
Native Students? 

The delivery of Native education 
must consider the cultures, lifestyles, 
and special abilities of Native students 
and the particular communities in which 
they live. 

Educators are models and mentors 
for all students. Educators should be 
aware of and understand just how their 
students live and think so that they can 
better assist them to reach their 
potential. The participation of Native 
home-school-community liaison workers, 
Native school counsellors. Native 
teachers and teacher aides, and Native 
elders is an essential part of improving 
the learning opportunities for Native 

Enrichment programs and technology 
must be used to the best advantage so 
that Native students living in isolated 
Alberta communities receive the same 
quality of educational opportunities 

offered to students in other parts of the 
province. School boards must be 
responsive to the needs of their local 
communities. School boards must settle 
matters in a way that is appropriate for 
local needs and for the educational 
benefit of their students. 

Alberta Education is committed to 
guiding the delivery of education 
towards meeting the educational needs 
of Native students, and will: 

• Alberta Education will support school 
boards in the development and 
delivery of programs and services 
that will address the needs of Native 
students and their communities 
throughout the province. 

• Provide help in the pre-service and 
inservice of Alberta's teachers and 
administrators to strengthen their 
awareness of Native cultures and life- 
styles so that they can better assist 
Native students. 

• Recognize that Native people viewed 
by their community as fluent in a 
Native language are qualified to offer 
oral instruction in Native languages 
under the general supervision of a 
certified teacher. 

• Encourage school boards to employ 
and involve Native administrators, 
teachers, teacher aides, and other 
Native people in the education of 
Native students. 

• Provide assistance to school boards 
for assessing and interpreting 
accurately the standardized tests 
written by Native students. 

• Encourage the extension of programs 
(for example, high school studies) 
and services in isolated communities 
through the use of technology and 
through innovative programs which 
enhance students' skills and abilities. 

• Encourage school boards to meet the 
unique needs of each school 
community according to the current 
provisions of the School Act. 

• Where resources exist, provide 
services for evaluating schools, 
educational programs, and teachers 
for permanent certification to Band- 
operated schools when they request 
such services through a Band Council 

• Encourage school boards to provide 
services that enhance opportunities 
for schools and Native communities 
to work together, such as hot lunch 
programs where appropriate. 

Building Partnerships 

Excellence in Native education can 
be achieved through the sharing of 
educational responsibilities, through 
strong community partnerships that 
involve Native people, school boards, 
and the Alberta Government. 

Native parents and community 
members must accept responsibility for 
representing the educational interests of 
their young people. Schools offering 
education to Native students must 
accept responsibility for providing 
educational opportunities that will meet 
their individual needs, and for 
providing them with particular 
experiences that will foster a desire for 

Alberta Education accepts 
responsibility for providing leadership, 
and for helping Native people and 
schools throughout the province to 
prepare Native students to succeed in 
meeting the challenges of the future. 

Alberta Education is committed to 
fostering meaningful partnerships, 
and will: 

• Encourage and support opportunities 
for Native people to participate in 
decision-making that will affect the 
education of Native students. 

• Consult with Native people to ensure 
that their views are considered at all 
levels of decision-making on the 
education of their children. 

• Encourage and assist the development 
of local school advisory councils. 

• Encourage school boards to negotiate 
the terms of tuition agreements with 
Indian Band Councils. 


• Explore the possibility of Indian 
Band representation on school boards. 

• Where a tuition agreement exists, 
provide School Foundation Program 
Grants to school boards on behalf of 
all Native students, including non- 
Status students attending schools 
administered by the Department of 
Indian and Northern Affairs or Indian 
Bands. These funds will not be 
available on behalf of Treaty Indians 
residing on reserves. 

• Work with school boards. 
Community and Alberta Vocational 
Centers, colleges, and universities to 
see that Native students who leave 
school early, or who continue after 
high school receive the best possible 
opportunities to continue their 

• Encourage Community and Alberta 
Vocational Centers, colleges, 
universities, and Alberta Advanced 
Education to provide training for 
Native para-professionals (teacher 
aides), and to provide training 
through outreach studies and services 
for Native professionals who would 
not otherwise be able to develop 
their skills. 

• Through the Native Education Project 
Team, continue to guide Native 
education in the province, continue to 
consult with Native people, and 
continue to act on the concerns 
expressed by Native people on the 
education of their children. 


The future of young people and the 
future of this province are inseparable. 
Together with Native people. Alberta 
Education has made a commitment to 
Native students to provide them with 
enhanced opportunities to learn, to 
grow, to succeed, to become confident 
and responsible Albertans proud of 
their Native heritage. 

Alberta Education will continue to 
help Native people and school boards 
throughout the province to address the 
challenges involved in preparing young 
Albertans for the future. 


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